Tuesday, 03 February 2009 14:17

Wildlife Commission hears hunters want for predator control!

Written by Hunters Alert
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The old timers turned out in force for the November Wildlife Commission meeting in Las Vegas. The reason for their appearance was a proposal by Assemblyman Jerry Claborn. Assemblyman Claborn, an avid deer hunter, has been attempting to do something about predators for over ten years. He has been very successful in the past and now wants to introduce a bill in the 2009 Legislative session.
He proposed if a hunter or trapper had their proper license and a mountain lion tag, then shot or snared a lion and surrendered the hide and skull to NDOW, the individual would receive $500. This is not to be confused with a bounty as it is contract hunting which will be defined.
Currently, Nevada Department of Wildlife, NDOW, has no quota on mountain lions. In reality, every lion in the state of Nevada could legally be killed. Because of the sheer nature of the mountain lion, this would be totally impossible.
NDOW has in place an objective harvest on mountain lions. This objective harvest was implemented in 1976 and has never been achieved since its inception. From 2002 till 2006, the objective harvest was 349 lions. During this six year period, the average was 160 lions killed. The 189 lions that were not removed killed 9828 deer, calves or similar sized animals a year. This figure is based on Wildlife Services which does the predator control work for NDOW.
Assemblyman Claborn provided proof that contract hunting worked extremely well in New Mexico. In 2001, the statewide population of Desert bighorn sheep had plummeted to 170 animals. It was so bad that New Mexico listed the Desert bighorn sheep as a state endangered species. By implementing contract hunting, the sheep increased to 400 in 2007 and they removed them from the endangered listing.
Assemblyman Claborn emphasized "This is not a bounty". A bounty has no limits or quotas. With contract hunting, once the objective harvest of lions has been achieved, the contract becomes null and void and no more money will be available. The money paid out to contract hunting will come from the $3.00 predator fee collected when hunters apply for big game tags.
After Assemblyman Claborn's proposal was heard, the sportsmen in attendance voiced their opinions. There were many and some of their comments are listed below.
Lee Dane, 72, of Indian Springs gave many examples of cougar kills. In addition, he cited the Three- Bar Study which was done in Arizona. The Three- Bar is a 602 acre enclosure. Data revealed that the fawn to doe ratios within the enclosure were 100 fawns per 100 does while outside the area the ratio was 18 fawns per 100 does, the only difference being that there were no predators inside the enclosure.
Pat Laughlin felt so strongly about the issue that he drove all the way from Elko. He said that because of predation, the fawns are not making it to the winter area. In addition, he felt the shooting of does is not science based. He also said you can do something about predators.
Bud Sonnentag, 65, drove from Gabbs and stated that he wholeheartedly recommended Jerry Claborn's proposal. His proposal is merely providing a way to achieve the objective harvest which the biologists and Wildlife Commissioners have agreed to. He also stated that the "decline of our deer should never have reached such a low point and have remained there for so many years. The people responsible for this were the leadership in the Nevada Department of Wildlife and many former Wildlife Commissioners."
Tom Cassinelli stated that he thought the coyote problem was worse than the lions. He said the state is producing more lions than are being harvested and has seen many dead rams in the Santa Rosa Mountains because of lions.
Hal Shrum, 70, testified that in 1960 deer were everywhere. He said it's not the drought, it's not the fires. He blamed the loss of deer on the mismanagement by NDOW.
Gene Perry, 70, of Las Vegas stated that there was a loss of confidence by the public on fish and game.
Ron Sweet, 70, of Las Vegas, a lifetime Nevadan began hunting deer in 1954 in the Pioche area and in the late ‘60s, hunted Jack Creek area in Elko County. He hunted there for 13 years and deer were plentiful. He said he has seen a dozen big bucks in a bunch and migrations of deer when it was hard to count their numbers. He believed that when the bounty was removed on mountain lions, it was the beginning of the deer decline.
Dave Jordan, 57, of Panaca left his cow elk hunt to come to Las Vegas to testify. Recently he had seen one cow elk and two deer fawns that had been killed by predators. He said in Iron County, Utah there is a $20 bounty on coyotes.
Somer Hollingsworth, a resident of southern Nevada for 55 years, stated whenever the subject of hunting comes up, it seems to be consensus that NDOW is not a user friendly agency and hasn't been for years. It seemed to him that the Wildlife Commissioners were appointed based on some type of political agenda and not because of any wildlife knowledge. He stated that one of his close friends is an advisor to the current governor and he assures me the new Wildlife Commissioners have their marching orders to bring back our deer. He also stated the new Wildlife Commissioners did not get their appointments because of any political agenda. They were appointed because of their wildlife knowledge and a real concern to save our deer for future Nevada hunters.
A letter was sent to Assemblyman Claborn to be read into the record. Unfortunately, Claborn did not receive it in time. The letter states:
Dear Sirs,
It is time for a change. It is time to quit selling a bunch of tags for deer that aren't there anymore. I am getting old but still remember when there were lots of deer. Something needs to control the coyotes and mountain lions. The numbers are down for the deer harvest. Hunters need your help. We have been waiting for some positive action. We also need to control these wilderness areas. I am physically handicapped and those areas shut me out.
Thank you. Do it for my grandchildren!
Albert Stewart, Henderson, Nevada
As usual, as with all government meetings, there is always a "left fielder", a person who is not in step with the majority or a person who really doesn't get it. This person was Brandon Fordin, an Elko County Advisory Board representative. He stated that there were no lions left in Elko County. He provided no documentation regarding his declaration.
After public comment, Wildlife Commission Chairman Gerald A. Lent recommended that Assemblyman Jerry Claborn's proposal be sent to the Wildlife Commission Legislative Committee for review. The public outcry was for predator control. NDOW has proven that they are not going to be proactive on predator control. If predator numbers are to be reduced, it will be up to the sportsmen and ranchers. To ensure that it is done, it will have to be enacted into law as NDOW has overlooked this part of game management for decades. This is the major reason why our deer numbers are so low and ranchers continue to lose stock to lions and coyotes. NDOW is not going to support Assemblyman Jerry Claborn's bill so it will require ranchers and sportsmen working together to see this bill is enacted into law.

Cecil Fredi is president of HUNTER'S ALERT and has been a resident of Las Vegas for 66 years. For more information about Nevada wildlife issues, log on to www.huntersalert.org

Reprinted from The Nevada Rancher, January, 2009
By Cecil Fredi

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